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Avoid these phrases when calling in sick at work in English

We’ve all been there – you wake up feeling terrible and know you can’t make it to work. Calling in sick is never fun, but it’s important to do so when you’re genuinely unwell. However, there are some phrases you should avoid using when you’re calling in sick in English.

These phrases can give the wrong impression, and could damage your relationship with your employer or colleagues. In this blog post, we’ll explore what not to say when calling in sick, and provide some alternatives to help you communicate effectively.

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I don’t know how long I’ll be out

When calling in sick, it’s understandable that you may not have a clear timeline for when you’ll be able to return to work. However, expressing uncertainty about your absence can cause unnecessary stress and inconvenience for your colleagues and superiors. It’s best to give an estimated time frame for your absence, even if it’s subject to change.

Instead of saying “I don’t know how long I’ll be out,” try something like “I anticipate being out for at least a few days, but I’ll keep you updated as I learn more.” This shows that you’re being proactive and communicative, while also acknowledging that your situation may be in flux.

Being transparent about your expectations and checking in regularly will help your team plan accordingly and minimize disruption.

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It’s just a cold

When calling in sick at work, you might be tempted to downplay your symptoms to avoid sounding like a whiner or someone who can’t handle a little bit of illness. However, if you’re speaking in English, there’s one phrase you should avoid at all costs: “It’s just a cold.”

While this might seem like a harmless phrase, it can actually be quite misleading and unhelpful. For one thing, a cold can be quite debilitating and may require you to take several days off work. Furthermore, if you tell your boss or coworkers that it’s just a cold, they may assume that you’ll be back at work the next day or that your illness isn’t serious enough to warrant any special accommodations.

Instead of downplaying your symptoms, be honest and specific about how you’re feeling. If you have a cold, say that you have a cold and that you’re experiencing symptoms like a sore throat, congestion, and fatigue.

This will help your boss and coworkers understand that you’re genuinely sick and that you need some time off to rest and recover.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that even a mild illness like a cold can be contagious. By downplaying your symptoms and suggesting that you’re not contagious, you could be putting your coworkers at risk of getting sick too. Instead, be honest about your symptoms and follow any guidelines or protocols your workplace has in place for handling sick employees.

In short, if you’re calling in sick at work in English, avoid saying “it’s just a cold” and be honest and specific about your symptoms. This will help you maintain good relationships with your colleagues and ensure that you get the rest and recovery you need to feel better.


I’m not contagious

If you are calling in sick due to an illness, it is important to let your employer know whether or not you are contagious. However, simply stating “I’m not contagious” might not be the best way to communicate this message. Firstly, if you are unsure whether or not you are contagious, it is best to seek advice from a medical professional before making any statements.

Assuming you know you are not contagious, there are better ways to phrase this message. For example, you could say something like “I have been cleared by my doctor to return to work tomorrow as I am no longer contagious.” This statement is clear and provides reassurance to your employer that you are taking necessary precautions to prevent the spread of any illnesses.

Alternatively, you could say something like “I don’t believe I am contagious, but I wanted to err on the side of caution and stay home today.” This statement is honest and communicates your concern for the well-being of your colleagues.

Overall, it’s important to remember that simply stating “I’m not contagious” might not be enough to put your employer’s mind at ease. Instead, be specific and provide context to ensure that you are communicating effectively and professionally.


I’ll be back tomorrow

It’s natural to want to return to work as soon as possible, but sometimes we underestimate the amount of time we need to recover. Telling your employer that you’ll be back tomorrow, when in reality you may need a few days or more to get better, can put pressure on yourself to return to work too soon.

If you’re unsure how long you’ll need to be out, it’s better to say so and give your employer an estimate of when you may be able to return. You can always update them later if your condition changes.
Another reason not to say “I’ll be back tomorrow” is that it may not be possible to accurately predict how long your recovery will take. Illnesses can be unpredictable, and it’s best to give yourself time to fully recover rather than rush back to work prematurely.

Instead, consider saying something like “I’m not sure how long I’ll be out, but I’ll keep you updated on my progress.” This allows you to take the time you need to recover without making promises that may be difficult to keep. It also shows that you are responsible and considerate of your colleagues, which can strengthen your relationships at work.\

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I’ll make it up

When you’re calling in sick, it’s important to be honest about your availability to return to work. It’s not a good idea to promise to “make it up” by working extra hours or taking on more responsibilities when you return.

Why is this a problem? First of all, it’s not realistic. If you’re genuinely sick, you’re not going to be able to perform at your best when you return. You might still be recovering, or you might be feeling fatigued from being out of work for a few days. It’s not fair to yourself or your colleagues to make promises that you can’t keep.

Additionally, saying “I’ll make it up” can put unnecessary pressure on yourself. You might feel like you need to prove yourself or show that you’re a dedicated employee. But the truth is, everyone gets sick from time to time, and it’s not something to feel ashamed of. You’re entitled to take the time you need to rest and recover.

Instead of making promises you can’t keep, focus on being honest and straightforward when you call in sick. Let your supervisor know that you’re not feeling well and that you’ll keep them updated on your progress. When you’re ready to return to work, communicate that clearly and ask if there’s anything you can do to catch up on any missed work.


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